Compiled by Donovan Mc Grath
‘Michael Jackson’ girls in hunt for husbands – The Times 13.10.09
‘Chinese in Africa prefer big ladies with pale skin.’ ‘Word has spread through Dar es Salaam that many of the Chinese men who have flooded into the country in recent years are open to marrying local women.’ In an attempt to ‘cash in on this new Chinese presence in Africa’, Zaina, who herself is looking to bag an oriental husband, confides to the writer, Jonathan Clayton that ‘some . . . girls [are] busy applying skin-lightening ointment. “They buy it in Congo – we call them the Michael Jacksons” ……’In reality, only a handful of marriages have taken place. Critics of the growing relationship with Beijing say that Chinese are now marrying local women to circumvent restrictions on foreigners gaining residency permits and owning land and companies . . . [Some Tanzanians] say that the Chinese are using their women as mules to carry ivory from poached elephants and rhinos out of the country and drugs on the way back again.’
Help for Albino girls – The Sun on line 13/11/09
Many Albino girls are living in fear founded on personal experience. Early in 2009, an Albino called Eunice was brutally murdered when men broke into her home and hacked off her legs with machetes. Now, US Professor, Murray Brilliant, has stepped in to help the girls. Through his research, he believes the albinism gene could be developed to fight leprosy. ‘This may help to change social perceptions about people with albinism in Tanzania,’ he says, ‘as they provide a benefit to the health of the people.’ Meanwhile, he aims to move the girls affected to the safety of a special school in the north of the country. Thank you Abubakar Faraji for sending this – Editor.
Ancestral land-grab – New African (No. 489, Nov 09)
‘While celebrated tourist resorts and blue-chip mining and logging companies dot their land, the Maasai, Batwa, Bagyeli and Baka people of the Rift Valley in East Africa and the Congo Basin remain extremely poor . . .’These are two geographic wonders, between them including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DRCongo, Central African Republic . . . and Cameroon. The two geographical marvels are peopled by two indigenous ethnic groups that have occupied those lands for thousands of years. The Maasai pastoralists found in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Batwa and Bagyeli people – otherwise referred to disdainfully as the “Pygmies” – found in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and parts of Central African Republic . . . ‘Multinationals, governments, local politicians, Bretton Woods institutions, international conservation agencies (WWF, IUCN) and other conglomerates exploit forest resources through mining, logging, cordoning off exclusive conservation areas, and re-settling indigenous people in village communities . . . making them depend on unfamiliar economic systems hostile to their survival.
‘As a result, the Maasai, Batwa and Bagyeli who once occupied vast swathes of rich lands have been dispossessed of their land without any compensation, suffered grievous human rights abuses by their own governments and neighbours, been exposed to xenophobia and ethnic discrimination, irreparable cultural shock, and a plethora of other demeaning injustices. . . .’
Britain’s tarnished reputation can be salvaged at last – The Independent 02.10.09
Ian Birrell’s Comment mentions the landmark case in which the British construction company Mabey & Johnson was convicted at Southwark Crown Court in London on 25 September 2009, after pleading guilty to charges of bribing government officials in five countries in order to gain contracts. Led by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), this is ‘the first prosecution of a major company for overseas bribery.’ Accusations of corruption have often been levelled at Africans, but what is becoming increasingly clear is the involvement of Western companies and their governments in what is often labelled as “African corruption”.
According to Birrell, former British Prime Minister ‘Tony Blair swept into power promising an ethical foreign policy, with ratification of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s landmark anti-bribery convention and promises of new anti-corruption legislation. It was never acted on, despite repeated promises. Instead . . . Blair gave in to threats from Saudi despots and ordered the SFO to call off its inquiry into BAE bribery allegations just as investigators were about to access Swiss bank accounts…..’The BAE case [in reference to Mabey & Johnson’s] is on a much bigger scale. And what made the Tanzanian element so depressing was that it was so brazen. The World Bank condemned the idea of one of the world’s poorest nations borrowing millions to buy a radar system. The International Civil Aviation Authority said that it was not needed. The development minister, Clare Short, said that the deal “stank” – but bizarrely, Blair waved it through.
‘Private companies are estimated to spend more than £20bn a year on bribes to politicians and officials in developing nations. This sum is nearly twice the size of the entire Tanzanian economy and makes a mockery of our aid efforts.’ Thank you Rev’d Canon David M. Main for this item – Editor.
Bury my heart in Bagamoyo – The East African 7-13.09.09
The East African Magazine published a feature on the historical sites of Bagamoyo, in the run up to the fifth international African Diaspora Heritage Trail hosted by the country in October 2009. Bagamoyo was one of the last stops on mainland Tanzania for enslaved Africans before being shipped to the slave market in Zanzibar.
Although the coastal town was a significant staging post in the Indian Ocean slave trade, ‘Bagamoyo has no dedicated website or guidebook,’ writes Mike Mande. ‘Also to be found at Bagamoyo are the tower of the red-brick 1869 cathedral of the Roman Catholic Mission [where, in 1874, Dr Livingstone’s body was kept before being returned to England for burial] . . . In the 1800s, Christian missionaries established a “Freedom Village” at the mission to protect freed slaves. . . [Bagamoyo] was also the first capital of German East Africa in 1891.’ Such significant historical sites were behind Tanzania’s decision to host the historical slave trade summit in October 2009 in Dar es Salaam……’
Comoros: External Involvement in a Small Island State
This paper, written by Simon Massey and Professor Bruce Baker of Coventry University, published by Chatham House (July 2009), investigates the ‘troubled politics’ of the Comoros, which includes three islands: Ngazidja, Nzwani and Mwali. The fourth island in the archipelago, Maoré (Mayotte), remains under French control. According to Massey and Baker, the Comoros ‘has been coup-prone and politically chaotic since independence in 1975.’ However, what is of interest to this current section of Tanzanian Affairs is the involvement of Tanzania as part of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and later the African Union (AU), which helped to bring all sides together after the ‘islands of Nzwani and Mwali, back in 1997, declared independence after complaining of marginalization. . . . The OAU encouraged representatives from the three islands to meet in Madagascar in April 1999 to settle on a compromise.’
In 2001, the electorate approved a new decentralized constitution which incorporated proposals made by the OAU and later the AU. ‘The official name of the country was changed to the Union of the Comoros. . . . It was agreed that each island would have its own president and parliament, and a rotating system was introduced whereby each island in turn had the right to nominate the presidential candidates for the Union election.
‘. . . Symptomatic of the issues left unresolved by the 2001 constitution was the continued political unrest in Nzwani. The island’s president, Mohamed Bacar, appeared intent on personal rule ever since his seizure of power in 2001 and was increasingly un-cooperative with the Union . . .The AU and others tried to resolve the crisis by dialogue and then by sanctions and a naval blockade, but all to no avail. Finally, a Tanzanian led joint Comorian-AU force took the island without bloodshed in March 2008 and Bacar fled to Maoré.’. . . There were already 230 Tanzanian troops bivouacked on Mwali as part of the AU Electoral and Security Assistance Mission (MAES).
‘. . . Despite Bacar’s hunch that France would not become directly involved, Paris agreed to transport the Tanzanian troops to Mwali but chose not to provide support for the landings on Nzwani. Final AU troop numbers camped on Mwali amounted to 450 Tanzanians and 350 Sudanese. . . . Two Tanzanian soldiers drowned during the landings.
‘The operation was hailed as “exemplary” by the AU’s envoy in the Comoros, Mozambican José Francisco Madeira. . . . While [Bacar’s] well-armed militia had expelled Union forces from the island in 2007, they crumbled in the face of an offensive from two points of disembarkation by professional Tanzanian and Sudanese troops.’
Crash bodies found – The Times 09.07.09
‘. . . Thirteen bodies and debris believed to be from the Yemenia aircraft that crashed in the Indian Oean . . . have been found on the Tanzanian island of Mafia. The Airbus A310, which was flying to the Comoro Islands from Yemen, came down in bad weather with 153 people on board on June 30. A 12-year-old girl was the only survivor.’
Kilimanjaro ice cap continues its retreat – International Herald Tribune. 04/11/09
A US study has stated that 85% of the ice cover that was present on Kilimanjaro in 1912 has vanished. Data was obtained from aerial photographs and instruments installed on the mountain top in 2000. The researchers were unable to agree however on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate. Thank you Richard Barton-Wood for this – Editor
Development is a walk in the park . . . – The East African Magazine -16.08.09
Recently renovated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture ‘at a cost of $2.4m, Forodhani is an example of how conservation can help alleviate poverty . . .’
…..’Now the enhanced aesthetics of Forodhani Park [situated between Stone Town and the Indian Ocean] will boost tourism, Zanzibar’s economy. . . . As part of its multi-sectoral programme that involves health, education and culture, the Trust will spend $40-50,000 annually to maintain the park.
‘In addition, repair of the entire 315 metre seawall is going on and will cost $600,000. The project will prevent the sea from encroaching on the Forodhani shoreline and will also protect the [historic] Stone Town.’
The £11m Gem of Tanzania hits rock bottom (Financial Times 01.10.09) – Gem exposed as a £100 fake,’ (The Independent 02.10.09)
‘It was once thought to be the most valuable jewel of its kind in the world,’ writes Chris Green (The Independent), ‘an enormous uncut ruby worth £11m with a history so murky that one of its former owners declared it to be cursed’ [TA No. 94]. Extract continues: ‘[T]he so-called “Gem of Tanzania”,’ according to Hatton Garden jewel dealer Marcus McCallum, ‘has been revealed to be little more than an expensive paperweight. The 2.1kg (4.6lb) rock is now believed to be a large lump of anyolite, a low-grade form of ruby, with a value of just £100. . .’ The Independent’s editorial section sums up by saying: ‘What better emblem could we have for these turbulent times than an asset that can go from almost priceless to worthless overnight?’ – Thanks to Rev’d Canon David M. Main, a new reader of TA, and David Leishman for these items.
Gone are the days when EA was divided by a common language – The East African 14-20.09.09
The overall theme of Joachim Buwembo’s article, published in The East African’s Opinion section, is concerned with East African integration. The writer spoke of ‘gate crashing’ a retreat in Arusha, where ‘captains of Tanzania’s media industry discussed . . . the prospects of Kiswahili in the digital era……The media moguls . . . were all in agreement that the Swahili language must change with the times to continue to serve the region and continent. . . [They also] agreed that the Swahili options on the Internet search engines and key Microsoft programmes (sic) only exist in textbooks and are definitely not what the users, who are mostly young people, use. They further agreed that all versions of Swahili, from Kenya to Congo, are valid and should not be denigrated just because they are not the “pure” Tanzanian version. ‘They generally viewed as unfortunate and outdated the tendency to laugh at the Kiswahili spoken by other people from the East African region.’
Maasai evicted and imprisoned to make way for safari hunting concession – Survival Online News & Media 20.11.09
Extract: ‘ Eight Maasai villages in the Loliondo region of Tanzania have been burnt to the ground, leaving 3,000 people without food, water or shelter.
On 4 July, heavily armed Tanzanian riot police set fire to Maasai homesteads and food stores to evict them from their ancestral land. Thousands of Maasai are now destitute with their cattle in acute drought conditions. They are forced from their villages to create a game hunting area for the Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC). One Maasai said, “Today our land is being taken for investment: luxury tourist hunting.”
‘. . . [OBC] is reportedly linked with the United Arab Emirates royal families and has held exclusive safari and hunting rights in Loliondo, northern Tanzania since 1992. . . In 2007, the Hadza [community] narrowly escaped eviction from part of their ancestral land following Tanzania UAE Safari Ltd’s withdrawal from its hunting concession in the Yaida Valley after pressure from Hadza, indigenous organisations and Survival.’ Also see ‘Ancestral land-grab’ in this issue – Editor.
Mandala hominid footprints puts Tanga on world map – The East African Magazine 07-13.09.09
‘[A] group of conservationist[s] and filmmakers stumbled upon the footprints [of] what is now known as the Mandala Hominid, believed to be more than 1.5 million years old in Tanga region. The discovery was made on April 8  by a team led by Prof Edward Gerry Mgema, an explorer with the National Historic Documentary Films Production unit.’
‘The footprints are pressed into an ash layer, presumably from the nearby Oldonyo Lengai (an active carbonite volcano).’ ‘Samples of the ash have been collected for date analysis and results will not be known until late October or November .’
Multiparty politics, same old one-party dictatorship – East African 10-16.08. 09
According to freelance journalist Karl Lyimo, ‘[T]he multiparty political system is more of a bane than a boon for Tanzania and its people. . . [M]ultipartyism has not worked for the country in bringing about broader bona fide democracy and socio-economic cohesion.’
The article continues by giving a brief history of the development of Tanzania’s party political process, and then says, ‘After more than a generation of single-party politics, president Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985-95) established the Justice Nyalali Commission in February 1991. It found that only 20 per cent of Tanzanians polled wanted multipartyism. Nonetheless, the government legislated single-party politics out of existence in 1992.
‘. . . [M]ulti-partyism has not succeeded. It has resulted in continued and suffocating single-party dictatorship and unnecessary socio-economic strife, albeit low-key. In the event, the same old party has dominated and dictated political, social and economic matters since Independence.’ In 1995 CCM won 59% of the votes cast. In 2000 this rose to 66%, and in 2005 CCM won 70% of the votes cast.
Lyimo ends by saying, ‘If this is what multipartyism means on the ground, give me benevolent dictatorship anytime. We could then leave out the electoral tensions, extravagance and flagrant politiking and concentrate on socio-economic development and nation-building.’
‘Have you seen the president’s new suit?’ – East African (Aug 31-Sep 6, 2009)
According to the writer John Kariuki: ‘Classy dressing is seen as central to the persona of a president . . .’ In his article, Kariuki compares the dress style of Tanzania’s current president, Jakaya Kikwete, with that of the deceased former president, Julius Nyerere. ‘While the late Nyerere’s dress sense reflected the humility of the working class, Kikwete is clearly a symbol of the capitalism that Tanzania now embraces.’ The article continues to comment on the dress sense of Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, whose ‘wardrobe has not changed much since his days as a finance minister,’ and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who ‘wears his hat like a Mexican bandit in cowboy movies.’ When it comes to style, Kikwete easily tops his East African counterparts, being described as the region’s ‘best dressed head of state.’
The Times Obituaries (18 Aug 09) included a reflection on the illustrious career of Rear- Admiral Sir David Haslam: ‘Naval officer who, after the war, specialised in survey work and rose to serve as a respected and effective Hydrographer of the Navy.’
While [in command of HMS] Owen off East Africa and the Seychelles, he participated in the International Indian Ocean Expedition, which provided evidence for the theory of continental drift and tectonic plates. In January 1964 Owen rescued 180 women and children from the bloody Zanzibar Revolt in which thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed. For this Haslam was appointed OBE.’ Thank you John Sankey for this item – Editor.
Dar finally fetes its World War heroes – East African (10-16 Aug 09)
‘Tanzania has finally recognised the heroes of the Second World War for their service, half a century after that great conflict ended. The move makes Tanzania the first East African Community state to register, recognise and honour the veteran soldiers who fought in the colonial forces in many parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. . ‘[T]he government has decided to take over the responsibility for the veterans and to find a way to make their lives better, but they did not say how much money has been set aside . . . for the exercise. . .’ Those whose names will appear on the register include ‘members of the King’s African Rifles and the 6th (Tanganyika Territory) Battalion. . .
Existing records relate to 1,132 veteran soldiers. . . Currently, the registered veterans receive a small allowance from Britain. . . The money is paid out by a charitable foundation, the London-based Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, which looks after 65,000 ex-servicemen registered in 47 Commonwealth countries, including Tanzania.’
Training Community Animal Health Workers – Bó Vine (Autumn 2009)
This item, published by the Irish charity Bóthar, is about assisting the building of a sustainable community animal health service in North East Tanzania. ‘The privatisation of parts of the Agricultural sector in Tanzania has led to the near collapse of veterinary practice in rural areas, especially where the poverty of the farmers means low pay for any prospective vet in the area . . . [which] has led to an overall increase in disease and decline in the productivity of the animals in rural areas. . . . The aim of this project is to reverse that trend and build an affordable and self sustaining basic animal health service managed by the rural communities themselves. Currently, 90 community members are being trained in basic animal health to serve 100 villages in Tanzania’s north east region. Thank you Ann Moriyama for this item. Ann would be interested to know if anyone else has heard of this initiative? – Editor.
Saving the lives of older women branded as witches
Help The Aged magazine (Autumn 2009) ran an appeal to ‘help save women branded as witches’. According to a featured article updating readers on the organisation’s current project: ‘When anything goes wrong in remote villages in Tanzania, the older women in the community are terrified. Local people often hold them responsible for outbreaks of sickness, deaths or just bad harvest. Even their red eyes – caused by a lifetime of cooking over smoky wood fires – can be enough to brand them as witches.’ Thank you Wendy Ellis for this item – Editor.